Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's your favorite sports movie of all time?

When it comes to baseball, I have loved The Pride of the Yankees since I was a little boy. Remember the Titans is my favorite football movie and anyone who loves hockey... loves Slapshot. However, when it comes to basketball... I had a difficult time picking a favorite.

It came down to three "hoops" flicks: Love & Basketball, Hoosiers, & Hoop Dreams. In the end, I went with Hoosiers because it's the movie I could watch over and over without getting tired of it.

Well today, I'm not going to focus on my favorite basketball movie. Instead, this blog entry is going to focus on my third favorite basketball movie, Hoop Dreams.

Hoop Dreams is a documentary about two basketball players, Arthur Agee & William Gates. The movie covers their journey from high school into college. Both of them grew up in inner city Chicago and were recruited to play at St. Joseph High School, where Isaiah Thomas went. Agee left St. Joseph after one year, but helped his team win the Public League Championship his senior year at John Marshall High School. He eventually went on to play in college at Arkansas State. William Gates stayed at St. Joseph's, where earned a scholarship to Marquette University. Both of them had dreams of playing in the NBA. Unfortunately, neither player made it. However, they'll always be famous to anyone who watched the epic documentary, Hoop Dreams.



Up until a few weeks ago, I totally forgot about Agee and Gates. It has been over 15 years since I've seen Hoop Dreams. But thanks to Hoopography, I've added two cards that will forever be a part of my PC.

Hoopography is an awesome blog that covers everything related to basketball. His blog covers inserts, autographs, sets, hobby news, the draft, and a bunch of other interesting topics. Two weeks ago, he posted an Arthur Agee autograph on his blog. I knew that night that I wanted to add one to my collection. With his help, I was able to find one on eBay. A few days later, I found the Gates on Checkoutmycards.com.

Thanks Hoopography... keep up the great blog!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Help Me Team Japan, You're My Only Hope!



I have never been a soccer fan. Sure, I've gone to my nephew's soccer game. I have even been to a San Jose Earthquakes game, but I mostly focused on my pretzel and nachos rather than the game. My guess is that I never got into the sport, because I never really played it. As a kid, most of my buddies played baseball, basketball, or football... not soccer.



Three weeks ago, things began to change. It was the last week of school and the students were excited about graduating and
looking forward to summer. They were also looking forward to the June 11th game between South Africa and Mexico. It seemed like every period wanted to talk about the World Cup, so that's what spurred my interest. I even had a list of teams I was going to root for.

Obviously the main team I was going to support was Team USA, since as "The Boss" sings... "I was born in the U.S.A.". Next in line are my ancestor's team, The Blue Samurai of Team Japan. I knew they had the least chance of success, but they're my peeps from across the ocean. Finally, I'd support Mexico, because that's who most of my students were cheering for.


Fast forward to last Thursday... when Japan beat Denmark and secured their spot in the second round. It was the only World Cup game I've ever watched in it's entirety and it was awesome. Keisuke Honda put on a amazing show and officially turned me into a fan. I even went out and bought a Honda jersey. I couldn't believe it, all three of my teams made it into the second round. I was stoked!


Then on Saturday, I was dealt my first major "World Cup" blow. Ghana beat Team USA 2 to 1. My favorite team is out, but at least I had two teams left. Unfortunately, the next day Team Mexico lost to Argentina 3 to 1... and then there was one.


In less than 30 minutes, Team Japan will take the field against Paraguay. Everyone I've talked to says that they doesn't stand a chance against them, but most people didn't expect them to make it into the second round either.

Let's go Samurai Blue... I'm down to one team and that's you! Or as sexy princess dressed in white with two buns attached to her head would say... Help me Team Japan, you're my only hope!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Domo Arigato: Joe from Sandlot-o


Today I received a package from Joe over at The Sandlot. In May, Joe generously held a free six box group break. Here are the 6 boxes he broke and a breakdown of what he sent:

1992 Score series 1 (21 cards, including Henderson, McGwire, Weiss, Eck, & Baines)

1996 Emotion-XL (4 cards - one of my favorite sets from the 90's - love the matted look)

1997 Metal Universe (5 cards - these cards are so unique)

1998 SPx (1 card - my Ryan Christensen was numbered to 2,500)

2002 Upper Deck Vintage (10 cards - I love the 1971 Topps Set & I love this one too)

2003 Topps Chrome (3 cards - What are the odds that I received a Byrnes? One of my favorite A's of all time)

As you can see, I was lucky enough to secure my favorite team, the Oakland A's. I was impressed by both the generosity and box selection of the break. Thanks Joe for helping me add to my growing A's collection. My doubles will be going straight into the hands of my summer school students, who will hopefully become collectors themselves one day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sports Card Bust #13: Brien Taylor

Today's hobby hype is all about Stephen Strasburg. Ten years ago, people were drooling over Mark Prior. Twenty years ago, the New York Yankees drafted Brien Taylor with the first overall pick in the MLB amateur draft.

I'm headed out to dinner, so I'll keep this short and simple. Brien Taylor is one of the greatest draft busts of all time. Scouts were all over his fastball back in 1991 and so were the Yankees. They were so anxious to have him, they gave him a 1.55 million dollar signing bonus. He turned around and built his parents a brick house and bought himself a black Ford Mustang.

What did the Yankees get for that money? Well due to an injury, he never pitched an inning in the big leagues. In fact, he never made it past AA ball. He pitched for seven seasons in the minors and earned a career pitching record of 22-30 with a 5.12 ERA.

As of 2006, Mr. Taylor lived with his parents in the brick house he had built and was driving the same black Mustang.

I don't recall what collector's were dropping for his 1992 rookie cards, but Strasburg collectors might want to reconsider spending hundreds of dollars on a pitcher who only has 3 career starts. Even if he has a stellar rookie season, he could always turn out to be the next Dr. K.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sayonara Salute #1: Evgeni Nabokov

It's official: Evgeni Nabokov is no longer a San Jose Shark. I've been a huge Nabokov fan since his rookie season. I remember Nabby spending quality time with the fans outside of the arena signing autographs for every person who wanted one. He sat in the driver seat of his truck talking to another guy in Russian, while he signed pictures, pucks, and sticks for at least 10 minutes.

He is by far the best goalie in the history of the franchise. Here's a breakdown of his achievements as a Shark:

A. He lead the Sharks to 9 playoff appearances in 10 seasons.

B. He has 293 wins. Second best? Vesa Toskala has 65 wins as a Shark.

C. He has 50 shutouts, which is more than all other Shark's goalies combined.

D. His .912 save percentage is the second highest in team history. Shields & Toskala are tied for first with a .914 save percentage.

E. He has the second lowest goal against average (2.39) in team history. Toskala has a career 2.34 gaa as a Shark.



So Nabby, if you're reading this... I'll miss seeing you fly out of the Shark's head on game night. Thanks for the memories and best of luck wherever you land next year.


Go Sharks!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I love the 80's #2 - WWF Wrestling

I was probably around 12 years old, the first time I watched half naked men running around a ring grabbing, slapping, hugging, and laying on top of each other. No, I'm not talking about porn... I'm talking about the World Wrestling Federation.

I remember it aired on KBHK channel 44 every once in awhile and it was cool. It was like a soap opera for little boys. I'm sure they're story lines were not as nearly as complex as they are today, but for me it was the coolest thing since slice bread.
In the beginning, I liked all of the fan favorites... Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and the Jimmy "Super Fly" Snuka.

However, I immediately took a liking to Mr. Fuji (for obvious reasons), who was the salt throwing, "bad guy" manager. I remember being the only one in my neighborhood who liked him... everyone else hated him with a passion.


A few years later, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat came along. He is (and always will be) my favorite wrestler for several reasons. First off, he wasn't as popular as some of the other WWF superstars. I've always liked underdogs and he was one of them. Another reason, I liked Steamboat was because he was a nice guy. In fact, he was the exact opposite of Mr. Fuji. They were like the Ying & Yang of wrestling for me. Finally, he was 1/2 Japanese. I mean, how many Jap
anese wrestlers have there been in the WWF?

My two favorites wrestlers would eventually cross paths. A feud started between The Dragon and Don Muraco, who was managed by Mr. Fuji. Here's a video of a lumberjack match between the two. They were also involved in tag team match-ups. Mr. Fuji would actually show off his wrestling skills with Don Muraco and Ricky would receive help from The Junk Yard Dog. Click here if you'd like to see one of their tag team matches. These confrontations were the peak of my interest in WWF wrestling.

After The Dragon left the WWF, I took a break from watching wrestling altogether. I didn't start watching it again until I became a teacher in the late 90's. I remember most of my students were big Stone Cold Steve Austin fans, while I cheered for The People's Champ. My fascination would only last for a couple of years. It just wasn't the same as before and my interest quickly died out.


These days, I'll still watch wrestling matches from time to time, but it will never be the same for me... like it was when I watched it during the 80's.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I hate being a hypocrite...

I've always hated teams that consistently win. During the 70's, I hated the Steelers and the Yankees. During the 80's, I hated the 49ers and the Celtics. During the 90's I hated the Cowboys and the Bulls. This past decade, I hated the Patriots and the Yankees (again). Actually, I've always hated the Yankees, Celtics, Cowboys, and the 49ers for their winning traditions. Which brings me to another thing I hate...

I hate being a hypocrite! Why the eff, do I love the Lakers? They represent so many things I can't stand... the color purple... the city of Los Angeles (Northern California & Southern California just seem to clash)... and of course their winning tradition.

I've struggled with this for years and today I'll explain (not justify) the history of my hypocrisy. It started back in middle school, when I fell in love with the game of basketball. I'm not talking about watching it on television or collecting cards, I'm talking about playing it.

In the 7th grade, I was one of the shortest people in school, plus I was a little chubby to top it off. However, I could hit an outside jumper... especially from the baseline. Outside of baseball, I never received much praise for my athletic abilities, so when my buddies picked me over taller kids, it felt good and boosted my self esteem.

Remember how everyone pretended to be their favorite superstar when they played? Well, I didn't really follow basketball, so I never did. Until one day someone pointed out that I hit a shot like Byron Scott. I'm not sure if I even knew who Byron Scott was, but after watching a bunch of Lakers games while on a family trip to L.A. I was officially a Lakers fan. During that vacation, the Lakers never lost a game and I was amazed to see how they just dominated their opponents. When I left San Jose, I couldn't name 3 different players on that team. By the time I returned home less than 14 days later, I had memorized the whole team from Magic, to Rambis, to of course my childhood basketball idol... Byron Scott.



Since then, I've never looked back. Sure, I feel guilty for supporting the "evil empire", but I just can't help it. I know I'm a front runner, but I've supported them through thick and thin.

In the early 90's when they struggled after Magic's retirement, I was there. After the 2003/2004 season, they lost Shaq, the Glove, the Mailman, and Fish... but they didn't lose this fan. I'll be a Lakers fan until I can no longer bear the burden. However, I promise you this... If I were to ever stop being a Lakers fan... it would only be while they're on top.

I'm a man of character and would never kick a man when they're down.


Friday, June 18, 2010

My 2004 Star Wars Heritage Sketch Card Collection

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before... but I'm a nerd and I'm proud of it (at least for now). If you ask any of my family members, friends, students, girlfriends, co-workers, and any other important people in my life... they'll tell you... I love playing golf... collecting sports cards... eating food... and watching anything related to Star Wars.

Star Wars has been a part of my life since I was 5 years old. As a child, I collected the trading cards and action figures and went to see Episodes IV, V, & VI in theaters. I even had the sheets on my bed until probably the 5th or 6th grade.

When A New Hope was re-released in theaters in the late 90's, I was one of the freaks who waited in line for 8 hours to watch it on opening day.

I have no idea what ever happened to my original cards, but when I started collecting cards again (probably around 2008), I bought a box of 2004 Star Wars Heritage. The cards were cool and have a design that's similar to the original product. But, what really caught my eyes was this sketch card:



I immediately went back online and bought 6 more boxes and pulled these:




I can't remember why I didn't buy more, but I'm glad I was able to pick up a handful of these sketch cards. I love the fact that each of them is a small, unique masterpiece that was once held by the artist him/herself.

If I ever have to sell my collection for any reason, I guarantee that these sketches will be one of the last things to leave my possession.




Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sports Card Bust #12: Kwame Brown

This article was originally listed last night, but due to "font" issues... I deleted the original article and have relisted it.
On the eve of game 7 of the NBA Finals, I feel it's my duty to pay homage to one of the biggest Sports Card Busts of the decade. Without Kwame Brown, the Lakers may not have acquired Pau Gasol. Without Gasol, there's a chance that Kobe would have demanded out of L.A. Without Kobe, the Lakers aren't in tomorrow night's game.
In 2001, Kwame Brown was drafted by Michael Jordan and the Washington Wizards with their #1 pick in the NBA draft. He originally signed a letter of intent to play of the University of Florida, but backed out to enter the draft. Obviously, expectations were high because he was the #1 pick in the draft... plus Mr. Airness made the decision to draft him.
Unfortunately, Mr. Brown never lived up to those expectations. He's averaged 6.7 ppg, 1.0 apg, & 5.4 rpg over the past 9 seasons. I'm sure Washington was excited to dump him off to the Lakers.
As a Lakers fan and a sports fan in general, I was disappointed and frustrated with Kwame Brown. It sucks to hear that a player on your team isn't trying their hardest and unfortunately that what was frequently being reported.
However on February 1st, 2008 the basketball gods answered Lakers fans' prayers and sent them a gift. In one of the most lopsided deals in NBA history, the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol for a couple of 1st round draft picks, Marc Gasol, a couple of role players, and of course the man of the hour, Mr. Kwame Brown.
So I want to wish all of my fellow Lakers fans the best of luck. I'm sure either way it'll be one helluva game. But it makes you wonder, would the Lakers be in this position without Kwame Brown?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sports Card Bust #11: Jason Bonsignore

The #4 pick in the 1994 NHL draft...


The next addition to my Sports Card Bust PC was once labeled the next Mario Lemieux. Jason Bonsignore attracted scouts attention after scoring 108 points in two seasons at Greece High in New York. A few years later, he began playing in the OHL. That's where scouts started drawing comparisons to Super Mario due to his size and similar playing style. The Edmonton Oilers jumped all over the hype and chose Mr. Bonsignore with the 4th overall pick in the 1994 NHL draft. He is the highest draft pick in Oilers history and unfortunately their biggest bust.

His NHL career lasted 4 seasons, in which he played a total of 79 games. He managed to score an astounding 3 goals and had a total of 16 points. The last time he played in an NHL uniform was during the 98/99 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then, he's played in a few different leagues and even in Europe. Unfortunately, he won't be remembered for any of those things. Nope, Super Mario 2 shall be remembered as being a huge bust and will now reside in my Sports Card Bust PC.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Boba Fett Has Been Captured


I'm a huge Star Wars fan and Boba Fett is one of my favorite characters. His armor and arsenal of weapons are second to none. Anyways, a few weeks ago, I saw a YouTube video with Daniel Logan (Logan played the young Boba Fett in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) signing autographs at the 2010 Phoenix Comicon. I had one of those impulse moments and immediately searched for his autograph on eBay and COMC.

I came across his 2009 Donruss Americana autograph for $2.50 on COMC and snatched it up.


I have officially captured Boba Fett and placed him in a penny sleeve, which has been securely placed in a top loader. Last, but not least the top loader is locked inside of a team bag. Escape from my PC is not an option.

Damn... I'm such a nerd!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sports Card Bust #9 & #10: Matt Bush & Todd Van Poppel


These guys have several things in common. First, they were both drafted out of high school. Second, both were recommended to me by collectors on Sportscardforum.com. Third, their autographs were purchased off of Checkoutmycards.com for $2 or less. Last, but not least, they both played on my favorite teams (Bush w/Padres & Van Poppel w/A's), which is awesome because I get to add their autographs to two different PC's. Another 2 for the price of 1 deal!



Let's start with Matt Bush, the first overall pick in the 2004 MLB draft. Bush wasn't chosen by the Padres, because he was the top talent in the draft. He was drafted by the Padres to save money. Jared Weaver, Jeff Niemann, and Stephen Drew were considered the top prospects in the draft, but they would have commanded premium bonuses that the Padres didn't want to pay. You've gotta love them. At 24 years of age, he still has time to turn things around, however at this stage in his career, he's a huge bust. He has never played in a major league game. In fact, he's never played in a AA or AAA game either. His lifetime minor league average is .219 and he's hit a total of 3 homeruns. In 2007, the Padres switched him from shortstop to pitcher, where he's found minor success. Unfortunately, injuries and issues with the law have slowed him down the past three years. Currently, he has a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.


While Matt Bush has never been to the Show, Todd Van Poppel was a seasoned 11 year veteran when he hung up his cleats in 2005. He was the 14th pick in the 1990 amateur draft. I've made an exception to my PC rule, because I spent a lot of money on Van Poppel in the early 90's and it still hurts to think about him.

Although he had a fairly lengthy career, he's struggled through most of it. His best season came in 2001 with the Cubs, when he had a 4-1 record with an ERA of 2.52. He's never had more than 7 wins in a season and his career ERA is 5.58, with a 40-52 record to show for it.

Both of them might be considered busts to many collectors out there, but at least they're appreciated in my collection. Welcome Matt & Todd to my Sports Bust PC.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Seven More Marks

On Sunday, I showed off my massive Garbage Pail Kids collection that I saved from my childhood. Well, three days later and my GPK collection has more than tripled in size. After writing my blog entry, I went searching on the internet for site selling GPK singles.

The first site I found was GPK Monster and they took care of all of my needs. I was looking for more "Marks" and was able to find seven. My personal favorite is "Skid Mark". I also like "On The Mark" (with the arrows), because I remember having this card as a kid. It's probably still stuck on one of my binders.




In addition to these seven cards, I also picked up three other GPK cards for some friends. They also offered free shipping if I spent $25 or more, so I bought a 2010 GPK Flashback "Yellow" set which contains 160 of the greatest Garbage Pail Kids from the past.

If you interested in buying singles or sets, I encourage you to check out their inventory. They have an amazing selection and reasonable prices.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I love the 80's #1 - Garbage Pail Kids

I was born in the 70's, however I was child of the 80's. While my older brothers were listening to Boston, Kansas, and Blue Oyster Cult... I was listening to The Cure, Run DMC, and Michael Jackson. They had posters of Farrah Fawcett and Hank Aaron, while my walls were covered with Michael Jordan and (if I ever found one) Phoebe Cates. The simple fact is... I love the 80's.

I decided to write about some of things I enjoyed during that decade, after I stumbled across this video on YouTube this morning...

video

I remember the first time I bought a pack of these, I was visiting my cousins in Hawaii and a couple of the collected them. When I got back home, I bought as many packs of these as I could get my hands on. In fact, I'm pretty sure I took a break from baseball cards and focused on my Garbage Pail Kids collection.

Well, 25 years later, I only have three GPK cards left. I'm not sure what happened to the rest of them, but I know I kept these for a reason.

1st up: Mark Bark - I kept this card for obvious reasons. My first name is Mark. It's funny though, I have friends who don't even know that. Almost everyone I know calls me Fuji. The only exceptions to this rule are my family and my girlfriend.



The final 2: Rappin' Ron & Ray Gun - Growing up in a Republican household, I admired our 40th President and his achievements.



This is my first installment in a series dedicated to collecting and the decade I grew up in.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My 2009 Archie Comics Sketch Card Collection


Approximately 11 months ago, Archie Comics and the March of Dimes Foundation released the 2009 Archie Comics Sketch Card Series. The March of Dimes is charity whose focus is to improve the health of babies.

There were a total of 2,199 packs produced. Each pack contained at least 1 sketch card, plus there were 30 hot packs produced that contained 2 to 3 sketch cards. An additional 50 packs contained a redemption card for an original page of Archie artwork. The suggested retail price of these packs were $24.95 and all of the proceeds were donated to the March of Dimes.

I think I paid around $100 for 6 packs last summer. However I was looking to pick up a few more, but the price seemed to go up. On eBay, I found some for $32.95 a pack and another online store had them for $40 a pack. You can also find singles for as low as $19.99 a card.

If anyone knows where I can find these at a little more affordable price, please contact me. I'd love to add more of these beautiful sketch cards to my collection.